Not even halfway into 2014 and automakers just set the U.S. record for most recalls in a single year. The recall that broke the camel’s back was for defective air bags in Honda, Nissan, Ford, BMW, Mazda, and Chrysler vehicles. Auto accident attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm explain this recall and who it may affect in more detail.
The defective air bags were manufactured by Japan’s Takata Corp., which supplies car parts to many different automakers, including Toyota, Ford, and Nissan. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently launched an investigation into Takata, headed by its Office of Defects Investigation unit. According to preliminary reports, between 2008 and 2011, Honda alone conducted a series of recalls because of similar airbag issues, pointing to a widespread, long-term problem.
Automakers frequently design their vehicles in similar formats so they can use parts from the same company (airbags from Takata), which is less expensive. Although this practice cuts down on cost, it also leaves these vehicles vulnerable, so a single recall or defective product can affect millions of different types of car.
Below is a list of the recently recalled vehicles, by automaker:
Honda (2 million vehicles)
• 2001-2007 Accord • 2001-2005 Civic • 2002-2006 CRV • 2002-2004 Odyssey van • 2003-2007 Pilot • 2003-2011 Element • Other Honda and Acura models
Mazda (160,000 vehicles)
• 2004-2008 RX-8 • 2003-2007 Mazda6 • 2006-2007 MazdaSpeed6 • 2004 MPV
Nissan (755,000 vehicles)
• 2001-2003 Maxima • Infiniti FX • Pathfinder
Ford (58,669 vehicles)
• 2005-2007 Mustang • 2005-2007 GT • 2004 Ranger Pickup
To be determined
• 2001-2005 3 Series Sedan • 2001-2006 3 Series Coupe • 2001-2005 3 Series Sports Wagon • 2001-2006 3 Series Convertible
• 2003-2005 Corolla, Matrix, Sequoia, Tundra, Lexus, and Pontiac Vibe
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Federal investigations found that the device that propels airbags in the event of a crash can burn too quickly, causing the metal airbag container to explode. Were that to occur in a real accident, metal shards would spray throughout the car, either on the driver or passenger side.
There have been several reports of injuries reported to the NHTSA because of the airbag defects, many of which coming from hot and humid regions such as Florida and Hawaii. Automakers claim that humid climates encourage the airbag propellant to burn more rapidly than other climates, intensifying the problem. Because of this, most automakers (except Honda) are limiting their recalls to these regions for now.
Among the states and regions most affected by this recall include Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
It is likely these recalls will later extend nationwide, however. We say this because there have been issues with Takata airbags several times in the past, and according to the Office of Defects Investigation, none of these previous recalls were regional in nature, nor were they attributable to climate conditions. If we were to guess, it seems like the automakers are merely attempting to use the “climate conditions” argument as a red herring, to detract from the large-scale recall and clear problems with industry practices.
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Takata also manufactures seat belts, steering wheels and other auto parts. Any type of defect in a vehicle can make it dangerous to drive and lead to collisions, injury and even fatal accidents. Unfortunately, many consumers are unaware that a small defect exists in their vehicles, and never attempt to file a claim against automakers after an accident.
If you or someone close to you was recently involved in a car accident, even if you believe it was your fault, contact our firm today. It’s a free phone call, so there is no risk to you by calling. If we believe your case may have merit, or you own a recalled vehicle and were injured because of the defects, we will send our team of investigators out to you to determine the facts and basis of your case. Our auto accident lawyers have over three decades of experience handling these cases, and accept clients from all 50 states.